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Notes on The Memoirs of Cordell Hull
by William P. Meyers

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Page 12
Russia, Cuba, Latin American; London Naval Conference Failure

The United States of America had not recognized the Russian (U.S.S.R.) government since the revolution of 1917. President Franklin Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull extended recognition and normal relations to Russia in November 1933. In January 1934 Joseph Stalin claimed the Japanese were preparing to attack his country and wanted America as an ally. However, Hull was more concerned about collecting debts the Czarist (pre-soviet) regime owed to United States businesses. [302-303]

However, Hull believed the Communist Party U.S.A. was a puppet of the Russian government, and demanded that the soviets not aid its activities. He writes [WPM: as if ignorant of U.S. history and practices before and since], "No nation has the right to send money and organizations into a country to undermine and overthrow its government. Every nation has the right to preach its ideas anywhere in the world and to convey information regarding its government and the basic ideas underlying it to other peoples or countries; but those peoples or countries must have the chance to decide independently on their own form of government." [306]

Cuba had been given quasi-independence by the United States in the treaty of May 22, 1903, which gave the U.S. the right to intervene using military force and to supervise Cuban finances. A treaty of May 29, 1934 gave up U.S. rights to intervention, but kept the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo. Then a government import-export bank was set up to "finance exports to Cuba." A tariff agreement was signed and the rate on Cuban sugar imports was lowered to 25%, then "40% more." [0.25 x .6 = 0.15 or 15%]. This was done with an eye to showing to other Latin American nations that the U.S. was peaceful, not imperialist. [342-344]

When the London Naval Conference convened on December 9, 1935, Italy had already invaded Ethiopia. The conference ended in March 1936, but the global arms race in preparation for World War II was already underway. Hill rages against Japan: "Her project of creating an "independent" Manchuria worked so well that she sought to apply it to other portions of China. Throughout 1935 we received well founded reports that the Japanese were sponsoring an autonomous movement in North China designed to detach it from China and bring it under the control of Tokyo." [444]

Hull admits China had "deteriorated and degenerated politically into almost numberless regional groups, each purporting to conduct some sort of government of its own ... with deaths from starvation running into the millions." [444] Roosevelt and Hull, in contrast, wanted to "help" China "unite" under Chiang Kai-shek [a U.S. puppet]. [445]

"Unfortunately our Government was at this very time unsettling internal conditions in China through its silver purchase policy based on the Act of Congress of June 19, 1934. As the Treasury purchased silver in the world market at rising prices, China, which was on the silver standard, found herself in the throes of a disastrous flight of silver. . . In November, 1935 the Chinese Government was forced to go off the silver standard, call in all silver currency, and replace it with paper." In May 1936 Chiang's government agreed to use its silver to purchase gold from the U.S. Treasury. [446][WPM: Presumably the gold was to pack the paper currency, Hull does not explain.]

Hull discusses U.S. objectives at the London Naval Conference. Japan asked for parity with the U.S. and Britain, but with low upper limits. [447-448]. Hull reminds us that Roosevelt was a naval power enthusiast who had been Assistant Secretary of the navy under Woodrow Wilson, and "reveled in naval problems, tactics, facts, and administration. . . The President was devoted to his collection of ship models." [451] The President kept close watch on the negotiations at the Conference. The treaty had some rules about the size of ships and guns that could be built. But Japan refused to sign the treaty in May, 1936 [435].

With the expiration of the older naval treaty "Beginning on January 1, 1937, the powers [WPM: the imperialist nations] would also be free to fortify their Far Eastern possessions such as the Philippines and Hong Kong. [455]

"At the beginning of 1935 I had already communicated to the President my fervent belief that we should hasten construction of a larger Navy, particularly because of the situation in the Far East." [456]

"In 1936 I began to urge on numerous members of the Government and leading individuals the immediate need to construct three new battleships and two aircraft carriers." In 1935 Hull was already advocating buildups of strategic war materials. [457]

Hull was opposed by isolationists and "well-meaning pacifists." [458]

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